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1 year ago  ::  Mar 26, 2019 - 10:44AM #17311
Posts: 32,868

3 big takeaways from Hal Steinbrenner: Are Yankees cheap? Aaron Judge as captain? Why not sign Manny Machado, Bryce Harper?

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner decided not to sign free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. (John Raoux | AP)

By Brendan Kuty | NJ Advance Media for

WASHINGTON — Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner addressed quite a few topics in a wide-ranging interview with The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio on Monday.

Here are our three biggest takeaways:

1. Steinbrenner seems to describe Aaron Judge as a captain:

When Steinbrenner was asked if he could ever see Judge, his 26-year-old face of the franchise, being the team’s next captain, the owner didn’t shoot it down. He described the qualities a Yankees captain would need … and they all were things Judge possesses:

“It is not something we take lightly. It’s not something we do every year. Sometimes, we go many years in a row without one. Obviously, the leadership skills, the admiration of his teammates — whoever it is — their ability to produce on a field and carry a team when a team needs to be carried, these are all things that need to come into play. Obviously, a player beloved by our fans is a big part of it as well because our fans are important to us.

2. Are the Yankees cheap?

Steinbrenner defended his offseason spending, an approach that saw him open his wallet and dump it a few different places instead of on one high-priced star.

He probably should have stopped there. But then Steinbrenner tried to explain that there are a lot of costs associated with running the Yankees, despite Forbes valuing them at $4 billion.

“There’s been a lot of talk about revenues, revenues, revenues but I just think it's logical and appropriate that, if you're going to talk about a company's revenues, to also address, as best as you can, their expenses,” Steinbrenner said.

Steinbrenner then went on to list some of the drains on the club’s fund, such as stadium operations, its baseball analytics department and its player development complex — all things on which other teams also spend, not to mention that the Yankees will never fully open their books to show everyone the true amounts of what these things cost.

“They all add up in a hurry,” Steinbrenner said. “Believe me, we understand the fans want us to win. I would never want the fans to think we're not doing everything we can to win. Look, we spend a lot of money this offseason and I think we’re a considerably better team. We’ll do that every year.”

3. Why no Bryce Harper or Manny Machado?

The Yankees have plenty of star power, but Steinbrenner was asked if simply adding more in Harper or Machado was appealing to him. After all, it might have been what his father, late owner George Steinbrenner, would have done.

“There’s no doubt we talked about it and discussed it and opinions varied on both players but I really felt our need, if we’re going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, was pitching,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “Because in my opinion, and people might disagree with me, is the reason we didn’t make it to the ALCS. Or at least the biggest reason we didn’t.”

1 year ago  ::  Mar 26, 2019 - 10:46AM #17312
Posts: 32,868

Humorous videos with Yankee players......

2019: Bronx Yardwork


1 year ago  ::  Mar 26, 2019 - 2:14PM #17313
Posts: 32,868

If Luke Voit is for real, this is what it would look like

Luke Voit will almost certainly fall back to Earth in 2019, but everything he’s done with the Yankees suggests that he’s no Fluke Voit.

Perhaps no move in recent memory better encapsulates Brian Cashman’s “Ninja Cash” capabilities than his pilfering of the Cardinals last summer for first baseman Luke Voit. For Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos, Cashman brought the Yankees Babe Ruth reincarnate for two months. The move has stiff competition, such as literally Shane Greene for Didi Gregorius, or John Ryan Murphy for Aaron Hicks, but the import of Voit stands up there among New York’s best moves in recent years.

Even if Voit never played again, his incredible production last year would be enough to make his acquisition worth it. Of course, Voit will play again, and could remain on the team for years to come. He will face pressure to prove he was no one-hit wonder, a flash in the pan, that he is a legitimate slugger at the big-league level.

Voit has a long way to go to definitively prove anything. It may be months or years until we have a conclusive answer to the question of what exactly Voit is and can be. However, while it’s impossible to make any concrete statement’s about Voit’s legitimacy, we can say one thing for certain; if Voit were for real, this is exactly what it would look like.

For one, if Voit were for real, his stellar 2018 would stand up to scrutiny. Nit-pickers would grow red in the face, digging into his breakout campaign and unable to find flaws, unsustainable BABIP numbers, and indications that he simply got lucky for several weeks at the end of the year.

And that is what we have. Sure, Voit did run a .365 BABIP overall in 2018, a figure he’s unlikely to repeat going forward. Yet we’re past the point in sabermetric analysis that we can just point at a high BABIP and yell “Regression!”. We can see what the player did to earn that good fortune on balls in play.

In Voit’s case, he did a lot. So many of his batted balls fell in for hits because so many of his batted balls were scalded. Per FanGraphs, an eye-popping 47% of his batted balls were hard hit. Turn to Statcast and sort their leaderboard by barrels per plate appearance, and Voit’s name appears at the top of the list. He ranked third in proportion of batted balls struck harder than 95 mph.

Voit deserved every bit of success he achieved in 2018. Now, we know now more than ever that past performance doesn’t guarantee future performance (check out the frigid free agent market for proof), which leads us to our second primary piece of evidence of Voit’s efficacy: his projections. If Voit were for real, the projections would forecast him not exactly to repeat his 2018, but to at the very least perform at a high level at the plate.

Lo and behold, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections peg Voit for a healthy .264/.344/.474 slash line and a 122 wRC+. Coming off a season in which the average first baseman ran a 105 wRC+, that’s first-division starter stuff right there. Even more encouragingly, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA loves Voit, projecting a .280/.350/.506 line and a 127 DRC+ (BP’s new hitting metric, Deserved Runs Created Plus). Obviously, the projection systems won’t project anyone to hit .333/.405/.689, as Voit did with the Yankees, but they do forecast Voit to play like one the American League’s best first basemen.

And lastly, if Voit was legit, he would not stop raking the moment the curtain lifted in 2019, and without question, he hasn’t. Voit has slugged through spring training, and while spring stats come with all the usual caveats and asterisks, itt’s certainly not a bad sign that Voit has continued to slug, even as the game’s haven’t counted.

Voit has hit .302/.380/.605 this spring in 50 plate appearances. That’s a tiny sample, produced against a motley crew of pitchers. Even so, three of Voit’s four home runs have come against pitchers with legitimate major-league pedigrees (Ryne StanekMatt Shoemaker, and Mike Wright) and the fourth one came against top Braves prospect Bryse Wilson.

Spring stats are nearly meaningless, but there is a body of evidence that suggests that extreme spring performances can provide a signal of what’s to come. In this case, the signal in the noise might simply be that Voit is picking up where he left off, and that his torrid finish to 2018 was not a mere one-off.

To repeat: this is not to say that Voit is dynamite. He could be Shelley Duncan, or Kevin Maas. Or, more likely, he could be Luke Voit, someone who established himself with a historic debut, and went on to prove that he was no fluke.

If Voit was for real, he would have backed up his 2018 surge with outstanding underlying numbers. Check. He would convince the cold, calculating projections that he was a first-rate first baseman going forward. Check. He wouldn’t come into spring looking flat and out of place, but with a chip on his shoulder to prove he could do it all again. Check. Nothing, so far, about Voit screams fluke. He likely will never approach the heights of his summer of 2018, but he doesn’t have to to leave the Yankees and their fans happy with their new slugger.

1 year ago  ::  Mar 26, 2019 - 10:05PM #17314
Posts: 32,868

Everything you need to know about Luis Severino's shoulder injury

The Yankees' ace, Luis Severino, is out until May -- at the earliest. With help from ESPN's injury analyst, Stephania Bell, we tackle five key questions. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON -- Exactly one week before what would have been the second Opening Day start of his career, Luis Severino was lightly throwing inside the New York Yankees' spring training ballpark in Tampa, Florida.

After finishing his 50 tosses on flat ground, he didn't go anywhere near a mound. From a throwing standpoint, the pitcher did nothing else that day.

For the foreseeable future, he will have more days like that. The Yankees' ace, who last month signed a four-year, $40 million contract extension, will be spending the first week of the season -- and significantly longer -- more than 1,000 miles away from Yankee Stadium.

He can thank a shoulder injury for that. Severino was sidelined nearly three weeks ago, and the pain put a pause in both the the right-hander's plans as well as the plans that the Yankees had for the front end of the rotation. Adjustments had to be made.

But with the season opener now days away, one of the Yankees' most pressing concerns is this: How long will they be without Severino? And will the star be his old Cy Young-contending self when he returns?

To answer those questions, it's best to first understand what exactly he's dealing with.

While warming up minutes before his afternoon start against the Atlanta Braves on March 5, Severino felt what he described as a "pull" in his right arm as he tried snapping off a slider to Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez. Severino said it was a surprising twinge of pain, considering how fine he had previously felt throwing sliders earlier in the spring. As soon as he hurt his shoulder, Severino said he stopped his warm-ups. He was immediately evaluated.

"That's 100 percent very important," said Stephania Bell, ESPN's injury analyst, a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist and physical therapist. "Because if he keeps trying to push it and it turns into something more substantial, a more significant injury, you can't retreat from that."

It's important to note Bell has not worked with Severino and has not done her own evaluation of his shoulder. Relying on her experience, reporting and published reports about Severino's injury, however, she can assist in analyzing his path forward.

2. How serious is his injury?
The defining piece of Severino's evaluation was an MRI that revealed rotator cuff inflammation. Of the types of injuries a pitcher could receive to his rotator cuff, inflammation might be the most favorable. Had the MRI revealed a strain or a tear, Severino could be facing a much steeper climb to getting back on the mound. Tears, after all, have effectively ended some pitchers' careers.

The reports on Severino from Yankees manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman have been positive. The fact that he has begun making early strides in his recovery has been promising, too.

Opening Day on ESPN and ESPN+

A new MLB season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than with a schedule packed with Opening Day matchups?

Thursday on ESPN and ESPN+:

Noon ET: Baseball Tonight live from Yankee Stadium

1 p.m. ET: Baltimore Orioles-New York Yankees

3 p.m. ET on ESPN+: Atlanta Braves-Philadelphia Phillies

4 p.m. ET: Arizona Diamondbacks-Los Angeles Dodgers

7 p.m. ET: Boston Red Sox-Seattle Mariners

On Sunday, Severino graduated from the 50-foot throws he made in the middle of last week to completing 90-foot throws. Monday, he made throws from up to 120 feet away.

"That all went well," Boone reported ahead of Monday's exhibition game in Washington. The day before, he noted Severino was "moving in the right direction." The Yankees have not yet said when he will throw off a mound, but that is likely to happen soon.

These are important steps, especially considering a week ago Severino still was resting his shoulder. Right after the injury was diagnosed, he began a cycle of anti-inflammatories and was shut down. For two weeks, he didn't pick up a baseball.

Despite his recent progress, there's reason for the Yankees to be guarded in their optimism.

"Anytime it's a thrower's shoulder, you get nervous because there's so many nuances to the health of a pitcher's shoulder. It's the uncertainty that makes you nervous," Bell said. "The thing you would worry about is that if it doesn't resolve 100 percent as far as throwing, and you're getting into a long season, that sets him up for something more significant down the road.

"That's why you see the team being very cautious on the return: 'Let's make sure this is 100 percent behind us.' And if he really feels good, and they bring him back slowly and he feels fine, then it may be exactly that -- a little blip on the radar and not anything more."

3. What is the timetable for his return?
Four letters spell out Severino's hope: ASAP. But as much as the 24-year-old would like to get back into the rotation as quickly as possible, he's well aware of how delicately he must approach his comeback.

"This is the game that I love, and I want to be there for the team," he said when he was first hurt. "It's going to be tough for a little bit, but after that ... it's better it happened now than in midseason or at the end of the season."

The when is indeed important. Since he hadn't yet appeared in a game (the early March start was slated to be Severino's first of the spring), the Yankees were essentially able to revert the ace's rehab calendar as if the start of his recovery were the start of his spring training. Expect his new spring training to last at least five weeks, going back to the day last week when Severino threw on flat ground for the first time.

He'll likely be making multiple starts in minor league games before he gets to crack the Yankees' active roster. Since the Yankees would want to manage his rest and get him in a rhythm that will allow him to eventually rejoin their rotation, they are expecting it to be just after May 1 before he's back in big league pinstripes.

4. What is the Yankees' short-term plan?
With Severino out at least the first month, the Yankees will be tweaking their rotation to give a few young pitchers opportunities to serve as fill-ins.

For the first five days of the season, they will go with a four-man pitching staff: Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, J.A. Happ and Domingo German. Tanaka replaces Severino as the Opening Day starter, and Jonathan Loaisiga is expected to slide into the fifth spot in the rotation once the first five games of the season pass. (The Yankees are keeping that slot open as CC Sabathia serves a five-game suspension.) Luis Cessa also is on the active roster and can come out of the bullpen if the Yankees go with an "opener" during their first turn or two through the rotation. Boone has already said that's a possibility.

Tanaka makes an interesting option for temporary ace. Although he's winless in three previous Opening Day starts, he's also 13-4 with a 3.38 ERA in March and April in his career.

5. What is the Yankees' long-term plan?
There's no reason to believe Severino wouldn't return to his typically dominant form once he makes his recovery. If his shoulder is healthy, he can pitch like he did before. So barring any issues, the plan would be for him to jump back into the Yankees' rotation as soon as he's healthy and to remain there the rest of the year.

1 year ago  ::  Mar 26, 2019 - 10:07PM #17315
Posts: 32,868
1 year ago  ::  Mar 27, 2019 - 6:31AM #17316
Posts: 32,868

Looking Ahead...The Day Before Opening Day!

The Yankees offseason has not been bad as they have added a couple of pitchers, Adam Ottavino and James Paxton, who will likely be very helpful in 2019. They have also added some depth in the infield with the signings of DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki. The offseason has also not been as exciting as some fans hoped. The Yankees made only a cursory attempt to sign superstar free agent Manny Machado and even less of an effort to acquire the other big free agent, Bryce Harper. On balance, the offseason has not so much been good or bad, but simply puzzling. 

The Yankees offseason strategy seems to have been that the Red Sox won the division by eight games last years, but it is very unlikely so many things will go well again for Boston. There is a possibility they are right about that, but that can hardly be called a strategy in any meaningful sense. When the Yankees were eliminated by the Red Sox in the ALDS last fall, they had some clear weaknesses that needed to be addressed. Their starting pitching was not strong enough; defense at third base was a problem; first base was at best a big question mark; and the injury suffered by shortstop Didi Gregorius created a hole at that position. 

The Yankees made one major move that sought to directly address these problems, trading prospect Justus Sheffield to Seattle for Paxton helped the starting pitching, but that was never going to be enough. CC Sabathia’s offseason surgery may not have been easily anticipated, but expecting a full healthy and productive season from the 38 year old southpaw would not have been realistic. The Yankees chose to ignore Luis Severino’s shaky, to use a charitable term, second half of 2018 and slotted him in as their ace. That decision looks pretty foolish now as Severino is facing injury problems that probably go back to last year and may be serious.

At first base, the Yankees seem to be hoping that Greg Bird will finally become a legitimate big league hitter or that Luke Voit’s second half of 2018 was not a fluke. While the latter is probably a better bet, going into the season first base remains at least a mid-level problem. The Yankees upgraded their defense at third base by acquiring a slick fielding second baseman. Again, it is possible that Miguel Andujar will find his sea legs at the hot corner, but it is equally possible that by mid-season, Andujar will spending his time as the DH with the Yankees patching together a solution at third base that revolves primarily around a player, LeMahieu, learning a new position in the middle of a pennant race.

The injury to Didi Gregorius was a bad break for the Yankees as a young and usually healthy star will now be out for much of the season. The Yankees addressed this not by signing Machado, who would have been a very good fill in at shortstop for half a season before sliding over to third base where he would have been a huge defensive upgrade from Andujar. Instead they have taken a flyer on Tulowitzki and presumably are prepared to move Torres back to shortstop and have LeMahieu play second full time if that does not work out. That is a reasonable, if unexciting option, but is not an upgrade from their 2018 middle infield.

The problem the Yankees face is that after thinking about the future for so long, the window is upon them. Few players, other than perhaps Torres and Andujar can be expected to be better in say 2021 than in 2019 and there are no players in the farm system poised to have an impact on the big league squad. Moreover, with two other extremely strong teams in their league, the Astros and the Red Sox, the Yankees need to do everything right to win now.

A key component of the Yankee offseason is that like most teams, the Yankees have sought to convince their fan base that their hands are tied with regards to payroll, but this is not true. While there are penalties associated with the luxury tax, the Yankees can afford those penalties. No fan of the Yankees, or any other team, ever said “my team won the World Series, but I’m not all that happy because they had to pay a luxury tax to do it.” Similarly, Yankee haters will not change their minds about the team if they continue to come up against, but do not exceed, the luxury tax threshold.

This flawed approach has led the Yankees to shy away from the big moves they need to put a team together that can beat Houston and Boston in the playoffs. The most recent, and most telling example, of this is that after the unsurprising news of Severino’s injury broke, the team did not acquire Dallas Keuchel, a potential ace, but signed Gio Gonzalez to an admittedly very reasonable contract. Gonzalez is a good ballplayer, but if he gets a start in the postseason it will not be a good sign. That decision is one that reflects a stronger desire to find excuses, such as the injury to Severino, than to build a championship team. 

This Yankee team is very good, but has most of the same big holes it had last year. It is a few breaks away from winning the World Series even with the roster as it is currently assembled, but an offseason that was a bit bolder would have put them in a much stronger position. Happy Opening Day.

1 year ago  ::  Mar 27, 2019 - 6:34AM #17317
Posts: 32,868

Yankees' Aaron Hicks may be out a little longer than expected

It may be a little while longer before Aaron Hicks returns. 

The Yankees center fielder, who is battling a sore lower back, has still not started baseball activities, according to manager Aaron Boone. 

"He said he's feeling really good," Boone said on Monday. "Just kind of going through core strengthening stuff right now. So, I don't know what the next couple of days are, but I feel like it's out of there now. Just make sure to go and then baseball activities. But I don't have a day for you on when he's starting that."

Hicks said last week he was pain-free after a second cortisone shot and was hoping to begin taking swings soon. He also said the week prior that he believed he would be ready by the Yankees' second series against the Tigers. 

The 29-year-old has been sidelined since March 2 and would need several rehab games and at-bats before he could rejoin the Yankees' lineup. 

The Yankees and Hicks agreed to a seven-year, $70 million extension at the start of Spring Training. 

1 year ago  ::  Mar 27, 2019 - 6:38AM #17318
Posts: 32,868

American League preview: It feels like the Yankees’ time

Aaron Judge (left) and Giancarlo Stanton

Joel Sherman and Ken Davidoff break down the American League for The Post’s 2019 MLB preview. Sherman tackles the AL East and Central, while Davidoff digs into the West.


1. Yankees

Over/Under win total: 97

Key player: James Paxton. He was important anyway, but with the loss of Luis Severino for at least a month and the season-opening absence of CC Sabathia as well, Paxton simply can’t be Sonny Gray redux — an AL West ace who flames out in New York. He has the repertoire to pitch at the top of the rotation.

Player who’ll need to step up: Gary Sanchez. A year ago at this time, plenty of Yankees saw Sanchez as the team’s best hitter. The emphasis is on hitter. Because there is little doubt the Yankees will hit homers. But will they be consistently tough outs who defy the game’s best pitching? Sanchez hit .284 in 2016-17 (by comparison, Manny Machado hit .276 and Bryce Harper .278). Last year he batted .186, the worst ever by a Yankee with at least 350 plate appearances. The Yanks did not pursue J.T. Realmuto, doubling down that Sanchez will hit and catch to a high level.

Name you’ll get to know: Deivi Garcia. The 5-foot-10 righty advanced from mostly unknown to Double-A at age 19 last year with a precocious feel. He is in play this year to push as a starting or relief option for the Yankees — or a trade piece come July (Madison Bumgarner, anybody?).

Biggest question mark: The rotation depth will be challenged from the outset with Severino and Sabathia sidelined. Luis Cessa and Domingo German are going to have to hold serve from the mound and Troy Tulowitzki at short until injured players return.

How it’ll go down: The past four champs — Royals, Cubs, Astros and Red Sox — have been built around young, starry, positional cores. The Yankees have such a group. It can be their time.

2. Red Sox

Over/Under win total: 94

Key player: Chris Sale. When healthy, Sale is on the short list for best starter in the majors. But he has not been right late in each of the last two seasons, including two second-half injured list stints for shoulder inflammation last year. The rest of the rotation, with Nathan Eovaldi, Rick Porcello, David Price and Eduardo Rodriguez is strong, but the depth is not, so Sale’s availability is vital.

Player who’ll need to step up: Ryan Brasier. With their payroll already touching the top levels for luxury-tax penalties for the second straight year, the Red Sox decided not to re-sign Craig Kimbrel. That left Boston without an experienced closer. The Red Sox have stated belief in Braiser and Matt Barnes. The ability to become the first repeat champs since the 1998-2000 Yankees hinges on finding the right late-game formula.

Name you’ll get to know: Darwinzon Hernandez. He is a lefty starting pitching prospect who was slated for more minor league seasoning. But his stuff is good enough and the Red Sox bullpen uncertain enough that he could become a factor.

Biggest question mark: Beyond the obvious relief conundrum, the Red Sox will have to avoid the physical/mental letdown that has beset recent champions.

How it’ll go down: Aside from Kimbrel, Boston is returning a championship roster headed by AL MVP Mookie Betts. The Red Sox are good enough to repeat at a time when they are looking at the possibility of free-agent withering — Kimbrel this past offseason, Porcello, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez possible next offseason and Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. the one after.

3. Rays

Over/Under win total: 84¹/â��

Key player: Charlie Morton. The trailblazers for the “opener” will still use relievers to start this year. But Tampa Bay does have the AL Cy Young winner in Blake Snell, a key July acquisition last year, Tyler Glasnow, and now Morton, whose two-year, $30 million deal is the largest per annum pact ($15 million) in franchise history. There are questions about Morton’s health, but not his stuff. If right, Morton provides a worthy sidekick to Snell.

Player who’ll need to step up: Avisail Garcia. The Rays tried hard for Nelson Cruz and DJ LeMahieu, but secured neither. Tampa spends most of its money and energy on run prevention, but to score enough they will need a breakout or two. Garcia hit .330 with a 138 OPS-plus in 2017, but injury and underperformance led to .236/96 last year. Something in the middle would be a boon for the 2019 Rays.

Name you’ll get to know: Brent Honeywell. He was going to be a factor last year before needing Tommy John surgery. But if his rehab continues apace, the righty could become an instrumental second-half add for the Rays rotation.

Biggest question mark: The Rays masterfully manipulated 14 pitchers to work at least 50 innings each (the third most ever to do that), swatting away credulity that a team could follow such an nontraditional path and succeed over a full season. Can the Rays do it again?

How it’ll go down: The Rays likely will be challenged to score again, but they are really good at preventing runs. A wild card is in play despite sharing a division with the Yankees and Red Sox.

4. Blue Jays

Over/Under win total: 74

Key player: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Has an organization ever been happier for an injury than the oblique strain Guerrero sustained during spring training? Guerrero has to begin the season on the injured list, removing the necessity for the Blue Jays to avoid the service-manipulation lies that were going to come when they began with arguably the majors’ best prospect in the minors. Still, with Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion now all gone, Toronto has fully flipped the page to next — and next for this franchise begins with the impact-hitting third-base prospect.

Player who’ll need to step up: Aaron Sanchez. The righty won the 2016 AL ERA title and in the two ineffective, injury-devastated seasons since has a 4.72 ERA in 28 starts. A healthy, productive Sanchez would give the rebuilding Blue Jays a sizable July trade chip.

Name you’ll get to know: Bo Bichette. Guerrero is not the only son of a former big-league star likely to debut this season. The Blue Jays signed Freddy Galvis to be a shortstop placeholder until Dante Bichette’s son is ready.

Biggest question mark: Will the roots of a rebuild be firmly planted this year with Guerrero, Bichette, catcher Danny Jansen and outfielder Anthony Alford providing better belief in the near future?

How it’ll go down: They will not be as bad as the Orioles — that is probably true of all 29 other teams. But being in a division with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays will probably create an ugly won-loss record that only could be tolerated if Guerrero and a few other youngsters deliver hope.

5. Orioles

Over/Under win total: 58

Key player: Mike Elias. The new GM was part of the Astros front office that endured 224 losses from 2011-13 as part of the tank that slowly evolved into a champion. He will try the same now with the Orioles, who begin with even less talent than Houston did. A year ago at this time, Baltimore at least had Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman, Brad Brach and Zack Britton. The best remaining trade piece is probably reliever Mychal Givens.

Player who’ll need to step up: Alex Cobb. Can he pitch well enough so that the Orioles have a chance to off-load as much of the three years and $43 million left on his contract as possible — and potentially net a prospect or two?

Name you’ll get to know: Ryan Mountcastle. He is a flawed prospect because scouts have big doubts whether Mountcastle possesses the fluidity and arm to remain at third base. But his bat is good, and in this organization, Mountcastle provides at least a few dollops of optimism.

Biggest question mark: Can they lose more than last year when they had a franchise-record 115 defeats? Remember that team had Machado, Gausman, Schoop etc. for at least half a season.

How it’ll go down: They will draft first and pretty much everything else will be last.


1. Twins

Over/Under win total: 84¹/â��

Key player: Byron Buxton. He won a Gold Glove and got MVP votes in 2017, yet plummeted so far last year he wound up back in the minors. He has All-Star potential, but has never put those skills together for a full season. He is still only 25.

Player who’ll need to step up: Jose Berrios. In his first two full seasons, Berrios has been good. He has the talent for even more. The Twins’ weakness is in rotation depth and excellence. If Berrios rises closer to a true No. 1, Minnesota’s problems become smaller.

Name you’ll get to know: Royce Lewis. In the shortstop plus outfielder Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota has two of the game’s best prospects. Neither might make the majors in 2019 — but they are getting ever closer.

Biggest question mark: Have the power problems been solved? The Twins managed just 62 homers from righty batters last year (second fewest in the majors). They added Tyler Austin at last year’s trade deadline, and then this offseason Nelson Cruz, C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop and switch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez. There might be questions about defensive fallout, but they should have a lot more righty power.

How it’ll go down: The Indians have won the division the past three years and are favored to do so again. But Cleveland has enough shortcomings in the bullpen and outfield to provide an avenue to be overtaken. Are the Twins ready to be that team?

2. Indians

Over/Under win total: 91¹/â��

Key player: Tyler Naquin. You can really pick any Indians outfielder or two — Bradley Zimmer, Leonys Martin, Jordan Luplow, Jake Bauers, Greg Allen and Carlos Gonzalez. With Michael Brantley gone, the Indians do not have a clear above-average performer. Can one emerge — such as Naquin — or can manager Terry Francona mix and match enough to provide competence or better?

Player who’ll need to step up: Adam Cimber. Injury and/or ineffectiveness devastated the previous dynamic duo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen last year. Both left as free agents. That makes Brad Hand the closer with lots of questions about how the ball gets from the superb rotation to Hand’s, well, hand. Cimber was obtained with Hand from San Diego last year and was not nearly as effective with Cleveland. Can he provide eighth-inning stability for a pen in which the best returning member is — drum roll — Oliver Perez?

Name you’ll get to know: Triston McKenzie. The next link to try to keep the Indians rotation a powerhouse.

Biggest question mark: Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are elite, but does Cleveland have enough around them to generate a consistently strong offense?

How it’ll go down: The Indians have the pedigree in this division, and 57 games against the Royals, White Sox and Tigers provide a buffet to feast upon. Do they have an offense and pen worthy of that rotation?

3. Royals

Over/Under win total: 69

Key player: Jorge Soler. The Royals have tried to emphasize speed this year and will be hard-pressed when it comes to power. Soler is among the few potential places Kansas City can get power now and into the future.

Player who’ll need to step up: Billy Hamilton. He was signed to play center and fuel the speed strategy. But — just like with the Reds — the question will be whether he can get on base enough to fully exploit his legs.

Name you’ll get to know: Daniel Lynch. The Royals received plaudits for their four-pitcher haul in the first 40 draft picks last June, and if there is to be a quick return to contention for Kansas City, it would be about this quartet. None excited scouts more after turning pro than the lefty Lynch.

Biggest question mark: Where are the building blocks? Aside from the double-play combination of Adalberto Mondesi and Whit Merrifield, there are no position players who clearly project to be part of the next contending Royal team.

How it’ll go down: Success for Kansas City will be if those 2018 drafted pitchers continue a positive matriculation while the Royals run out the ill-advised contracts to Alex Gordon (after this season) and Ian Kennedy (after next year).

4. White Sox

Over/Under win total: 73

Key player: Yoan Moncada. There were two key pieces the White Sox received in trading Chris Sale to the Red Sox. Michael Kopech had Tommy John surgery and will miss this season. Moncada is coming off a season in which he hit .235 with 217 strikeouts. Can he make enough quality contact to capitalize on his power and speed combo and become a White Sox cornerstone?

Player who’ll need to step up: Lucas Giolito. The key part of the return for Adam Eaton to the Nationals, Giolito — a top-10 prospect in 2015-16 — battled his control to a 6.13 ERA in his first full major league season in 2018.

Name you’ll get to know: Eloy Jimenez. Arguably the majors’ best power prospect. His arrival is imminent. Can he begin to change the losing narrative around the White Sox?

Biggest question mark: Who joins Jimenez as part of the everyday core? Both Moncada and shortstop Tim Anderson have underwhelmed while Jose Abreu is 32 and entering his walk year.

How it’ll go down: There are scenarios in which enough high-end talent hits simultaneously and Chicago has a pleasantly surprising season. But the White Sox have the majors’ worst record over the last six seasons and there are atmospheric/leadership issues that need to be surmounted as well.

5. Tigers

Over/Under win total: 67¹/â��

Key player: Nick Castellanos. Did you know Castellanos has a 121 OPS-plus over the last three seasons, which is better than Francisco Lindor (118) and J.T. Realmuto (118)? He also is a free agent after this season, so he currently stands as the rebuilding Tigers’ best trade chip.

Player who’ll need to step up: Matt Boyd. He graduated last year to a sturdy, league-average starter. Is there another level? With Michael Fulmer needing Tommy John surgery and the other piece besides Boyd from the 2015 David Price trade, Daniel Norris, not performing well, Boyd is the rare current Tiger with a chance to be part of Detroit’s next good team.

Name you’ll get to know: Casey Mize. The No. 1-overall pick last season joins Beau Burrows, Matt Manning and Franklin Perez in what the Tigers hope will be their rotation of the near future.

Biggest question mark: Detroit owes Jordan Zimmermann $50 million over the next two years and, more importantly, Miguel Cabrera $162 million over the next five. Can the Tigers get any benefits from the declining, expensive veterans or is it just an uncomfortable dance into the near future until they have to release one and/or the other and eat a lot of money?

How it’ll go down: The Tigers won’t have the AL’s most losses. But that is because the Orioles are in the league as opposed to any 2019 positive possibilities.


1. Astros

Over/Under win total: 96¹/â��

Key player: Justin Verlander. With the departure of two starting pitchers (Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton) to free agency and a third (Lance McCullers Jr.) to Tommy John surgery, the Astros will deploy a top-heavy starting rotation, and the 36-year-old Verlander, having signed a two-year extension rather than enter free agency for the first time this coming winter, will be counted on to produce another ace-level campaign.

Player who’ll need to step up: Carlos Correa. Honesty alert: This roster is so deep and talented that it can withstand considerable misfortune and underachievement. So Correa gets tagged with this label because he registered the most disappointing 2018 and possesses the most room for a rebound. Back and oblique problems plagued him last year. Remarkably, he’s still only 24.

Name you’ll get to know: Kyle Tucker, selected three slots behind his teammate Alex Bregman in the 2015 amateur draft, looks ready to receive some action if either corner outfielder (Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick) or DH Tyler White get hurt. The Astros have turned down countless trade proposals for him.

Biggest question mark: The starting rotation. Is there enough beyond Verlander and Gerrit Cole? They’re counting on former Met Collin McHugh to convert back from the bullpen and veteran Wade Miley to continue his revival started last season with Milwaukee.

How it’ll go down: Thanks to their loaded lineup, a solid bullpen and a lack of quality competition, the Astros will win their third straight division title, matching their three-peat from 1997 through 1999 (when they resided in the NL Central).

2. Angels

Over/Under win total: 82¹/â��

Key player: Cody Allen. The longtime stellar Indians closer fell off a cliff last year, his platform season, and the Angels bought low on him with a one-year contract. This team, its starting rotation less than inspiring, will need a strong bullpen to attain its goals.

Player who’ll need to step up: Zack Cozart gave the Angels close to nothing last season, the first of his three-year, $38 million contract, as he suffered a serious left shoulder injury that kept him out of action after June 13. It would aid the Angels greatly if he earned his keep.

Name you’ll get to know: Griffin Canning, in only his second season of professional ball, could be ready to help the rotation by season’s end. He struck out 64 batters over 59 innings once he reached Triple-A Salt Lake last year.

Biggest question mark: Yup, the starting rotation. Can old pal Matt Harvey build on his modest Reds rebound after the Mets banished him, or will he get distracted by his proximity to Los Angeles? Can Trevor Cahill sustain his 2018 renaissance with the A’s? Can Andrew Heaney, set to begin the season on the injured list, work through his current pitching elbow woes? Can anyone approach 200 innings or 200 strikeouts?

How it’ll go down: Despite employing perennial AL MVP candidate Mike Trout, who has signed an extension that should keep him in Anaheim for the rest of his career, and reigning AL Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani (who will only hit this season as he rehabilitates from Tommy John surgery) the Angels will fall short of the postseason once again with new manager Brad Ausmus.

3. A’s

Over/Under win total: 82

Key player: Matt Chapman led the A’s unlikely 2018 charge to an AL wild-card slot, and logic dictates he’ll need another monster season for these guys to dive back into the mix, all the more so with his fellow young stud Matt Olson suffering a significant right hand injury in Japan.

Player who’ll need to step up: The A’s took a shot on Marco Estrada in the free-agent market after he registered a terrible 2018 season (5.64 ERA) with the Blue Jays. Oakland must see something in the 35-year-old to entrust him with a spot in its starting rotation. Or it might just be that desperate for starting pitching help.

Name you’ll get to know: Jesus Luzardo ranks as “the top left-handed pitching prospect in the game,” according to, but the 21-year-old, who made it all the way to Triple-A Nashville last season, suffered a left shoulder injury in camp. If he gets healthy, he’ll get a chance.

Biggest question mark: Can the A’s duplicate the amazing fortune they experienced last year? They vastly overachieved, simply enough, because so many of their players — from young to old — recorded peak performances. Considerable regression appears virtually unavoidable. The A’s must nevertheless determine how to avoid that.

How it’ll go down: Yeah, it’s just quite difficult to envision Oakland registering consecutive miracle seasons, even in the extremely watered-down AL. The A’s could stay in contention thanks to their impressive lineup, deep bullpen and weak opposition, yet their rotation seems like the probable downfall. This doesn’t look like the year for celebrated head of baseball operations Billy Beane to reach his first World Series.

4. Mariners

Over/Under win total: 73¹/â��

Key player: Mitch Haniger stands alone as the future face of this franchise. The M’s took a major step back as they traded every veteran player with value, and they’re counting on the 28-year-old outfielder, who has only two-plus years of service, to still be around when the next contention run comes.

Player who’ll need to step up: A three-way tie among Jay Bruce, Edwin Encarnacion and Dee Gordon, all of whom become trade candidates the moment they show any flash of past greatness. If all three are off the roster by Aug. 1, then that could make this a successful Mariners season in the macro sense.

Name you’ll get to know: Yusei Kikuchi inspired a modest bidding war among major league teams after the Seibu Lions posted him, and his match with Seattle served as a surprise given the Mariners’ offseason teardown. Now the left-hander becomes part of the M’s buildup.

Biggest question mark: Is trade-happy general manager Jerry DiPoto the man to lead this organization to its first postseason berth since 2001? He earned a midseason extension last year, when the Mariners surged to a fast start, only to see the club trip and fall out of the playoff race. Now he’s taking a step back with the hopes of reboot in a few years.

How it’ll go down: At least Kikuchi will be interesting to watch, and the Mariners will be in the center of many trade rumors as they try to continue shedding payroll. All in all, however, the forecast calls for a downer and an 18th straight season, most of any major North American sports franchise, without a postseason invitation.

5. Rangers

Over/Under win total: 71

Key player: Joey Gallo. He ranks fourth in home runs (81) the last two seasons combined, yet he remains a very unfinished product, a poor man’s Adam Dunn. If the 25-year-old can ever supplement his power with patience and contact, then he could be a franchise player.

Player who’ll need to step up: When we last saw Lance Lynn, he was enjoying a modest reboot in Yankees pinstripes before pitching poorly in the postseason. The Rangers saw enough in him to invest $30 million over three years. With the club badly in need of starting pitching, he can help scratch that itch by looking more like his old Cardinals self and less like the guy who stunk it up with the Twins last year.

Name you’ll get to know: Jonathan Hernandez could be part of the starting pitching solution as soon as this year if he fixes the command issues that plagued him last season with Double-A Frisco.

Biggest question mark: Who and what will define this team as it prepares to move to a new ballpark in 2020? The impressive run of contention, with a 163rd game or better six times between 2010 and 2016, has ended. Future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre has retired. The young talent in the majors is underwhelming. Can rookie manager Chris Woodward develop a team character as it leaves Globe Life Park?

How it’ll go down: Quietly, with a second straight last-place finish. This season will be all about building for the future, both internally (player talent) and externally (the new stadium). Fans will just have to hope for better times ahead.

1 year ago  ::  Mar 27, 2019 - 10:39AM #17319
Posts: 32,868

Five bold predictions for the 2019 Yankees

In less than 28 hours the Yankees will open the 2019 regular season at home against the Orioles. Spring Training really flew by this year even though it seemed like someone got hurt every other day. Thank goodness it’s over, both Spring Training and an offseason that was frustrating for fans (of all teams) more often than not.

Since Opening Day is tomorrow, it’s time for what has become my annual bold predictions post. Two years ago I went 7-for-10 and that told me I didn’t go bold enoughI trimmed it to five bold predictions last year and went 0-for-5. That’s more like it. Fewer predictions with a greater emphasis on bold. That’s the point, right?

Well, anyway, here are my five hopefully bold enough predictions for the 2019 Yankees, listed in no particular order. We’ll come back and see how I did in a few months.

Judge and Stanton will combine for 116 home runs

The Yankees set several home run records last season, mostly notably the single-season record with 267 homers, but the whole “first team to get 20 homers from every lineup spot” thing is my favorite record. That is insane. That deep attack is how the Yankees were able to set the single-season homer record despite losing Aaron Judge to a wrist injury for seven weeks and others underperforming.

Breaking the home run record again this season is a very possible. It’ll take good health, something the Yankees don’t have right now, but it is possible. My focus is another home run record though. I’m predicting Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will combine for 116 homers, the most ever by two teammates in history. Only five sets of teammates have ever combined for as many as 100 homers in a season.

  1. 1961 Yankees (115): Roger Maris (61) and Mickey Mantle (54)
  2. 2001 Giants (110): Barry Bonds (73) and Rich Aurilia (37)
  3. 1927 Yankees (107): Babe Ruth (60) and Lou Gehrig (47)
  4. 1998 Cardinals (101): Mark McGwire (70) and Ray Lankford (31)
  5. 2002 Rangers (100): Alex Rodriguez (57) and Rafael Palmeiro (43)

Judge and Stanton combined to hit 65 home runs last season, so, even as good as they are, they only got a little more than halfway to my boldly predicted total of 116. Here’s the thing though: Judge and Stanton combined to hit 111 home runs in 2017. Not as teammates, of course, but they combined for 111 homers. Judge hit a rookie record 52 homers and Stanton hit an MLB best 59 homers with Miami.

These two have already come pretty close to 116 homers! Stanton will play the entire 2019 season at 29 and Judge will turn 27 in a few weeks, so they’re both very much in the primes of their careers. Also, Stanton will presumably be more comfortable in year two in New York, and he gets to play in Yankee Stadium. I mean, the guy hit 59 homers while playing his home games in spacious Marlins Park. Why can’t he hit 60-65 in a friendlier ballpark in the Bronx?

Judge and Stanton combining for 116 homers means one of them will almost certainly have to hit at least 62 homers, which would pass Maris and set a new American League single-season home run record. I suppose they could split it right down the middle and hit 58 each. The more likely scenario is one has a historic record-breaking season while the other merely has a monster MVP caliber season. It could happen!

Paxton will receive the most Cy Young points by a Yankee since Clemens

The last Yankee to win the Cy Young award is Roger Clemens in 2001. He went 20-1 in his first 30 starts that year, and that created a Cy Young narrative that was more or less unbreakable. Going 20-1 (he finished 20-3) was hard to ignore even though new Yankees teammate Mike Mussina (3.15 ERA and +7.1 WAR) had an objectively better season than Clemens (3.51 ERA and +5.7 WAR).

Since 2001, eleven different players have combined for 16 instances of a Yankee receiving Cy Young votes. Most notably, Mariano Rivera was the runner-up to Bartolo Colon in 2005 and Chien-Ming Wang was the runner-up to Johan Santana in 2006. The Cy Young ballot is five names deep and a first place vote equals five points, a second place vote equals four points, all the way on down to one point for a fifth place vote. The most points wins.

The most Cy Young points tallied by a Yankee since Clemens was not Luis Severino two years ago. It was CC Sabathia in 2010. He threw 237.2 innings with a 3.18 ERA and +6.4 WAR that season, and finished third in the Cy Young voting behind Felix Hernandez and David Price. Here are the top Cy Young point totals among Yankees since Clemens:

  1. 2010 CC Sabathia: 102 points
  2. 2017 Luis Severino: 73 points
  3. 2005 Mariano Rivera: 68 points
  4. 2011 CC Sabathia: 63 points
  5. 2006 Chien-Ming Wang: 51 points
  6. 2004 Mariano Rivera: 27 points
  7. Ten instances with 13 or fewer points

For reference, American League Cy Young winners have averaged 166.4 voting points over the last ten years. (The National League average is a bit higher because Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, and the late Roy Halladay skewed it with their overwhelming greatness.)

With all due to respect to Masahiro Tanaka, who is forever cool with me, James Paxton is the Yankees’ best chance at Cy Young votes this year given Severino’s injury. Paxton has flashed ace ability in the past — at one point last May he struck out 16 and threw a no-hitter in back-to-back starts — but he hasn’t had that complete, fully healthy ace season yet. Last year he threw 160.1 innings with a 3.76 ERA. The year before it was 136 innings with a 2.98 ERA.

Blake Snell lowered the Cy Young threshold last year by throwing only 180.2 innings, the fewest ever by a Cy Young winner in a non-strike season. Of course, Snell also became the first American League starter with a sub-2.00 ERA since peak Pedro Martinez, so those 180.2 innings were super high-quality. Point is though, winning the Cy Young with only 180 or so innings is no longer impossible. You just need to be really, really good.

The bold prediction here is Paxton will not only stay healthy and get to 180 innings or thereabouts, but that he’ll also perform as well as 2017 on a rate basis. Even with the move from Safeco Field T-Mobile Park into Yankee Stadium. That means a 3.00 ERA or so, a FIP about a half-a-run lower, a strikeout rate approaching 30%, and nearly five strikeouts for every one walk. Add in the “new guy carrying to the Yankees to the postseason” narrative, and there you go. Even if he doesn’t win the award, Paxton will rake in Cy Young points.

Andujar will finish the year as an above-average defender

Perhaps my boldest prediction ever. I’m a longtime Andujar believer — what’s a good fan club name, the FANdujars? — and yes, I know he was atrocious defensively last season. Defensive Runs Saved data goes back to 2003 and includes over 31,000 individual player seasons. Last year Andujar finished with the 25th worst rating (-25 runs) in DRS history, sandwiched right between 2004 Bernie Williams (-26 runs) and 2007 Derek Jeter (-24 runs). Eek.

Like I said though, I am an Andujar believer, and I’m boldly buying into all the defensive work he did over the winter and in Spring Training, as well as a year’s worth of MLB experience. Being a rookie in the big leagues isn’t easy, especially not in New York with a Yankees team that is in the race. It’s pretty remarkable Andujar and Gleyber Torres were as productive as they were last season. There’s a lot to absorb during that first year in the show.

Andujar (and Torres) knows what to expect now, and he’s a very hard worker who’s spent a lot of time working on his defense the last five months. A lot. I expect all that work to pay off this summer. We’re going to see more plays like this …

Embedded video

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We see you, @MAndujarPapa ��

Ottavino will lead the Yankees in saves

On paper, Adam Ottavino is what, fourth on the closer depth chart? Aroldis Chapman will again go into the season as the ninth inning guy, as he should, and my hunch is Zack Britton is next in line for save opportunities over Dellin Betances whenever Chapman needs a day. Either way, it’s Britton and Betances behind Chapman in either order, which means Ottavino is fourth at best. Maybe he’s even behind Chad Green? Could be.

Even at fourth on the closer depth chart, you don’t have to try real hard to envision Ottavino getting save chances at some point. I’m worried this bold prediction isn’t all that bold. Betances is already hurt, and while it’s not expected to be a long-term injury, you never really know with shoulders. He might not be the same dominant Dellin when he returns. That means Ottavino would have one fewer player standing in his way for save chances.

I didn’t love the decision to re-sign Zack Britton — like the rest of the Yankees’ free agent activity, it was fine and nothing more — because his strikeouts have gone down and his walks have gone up, and hitters aren’t chasing out of the zone nearly as much as they did a few years ago. For a 31-year-old reliever who’s missed a bunch of time with injuries the last two years, expecting Britton to be good rather than great isn’t crazy. I mean, look at this:

As for Chapman, he looked sneaky crummy this spring, with a fastball that sat mostly 94-96 mph rather than 97-98 mph. I know it’s only Spring Training, believe me, but Chapman’s fastball averaged 99.1 mph last March. For a guy who’s already losing velocity, seeing mid-90s rather than upper-90s this spring was a little worrisome. Hopefully he will regain those last few miles-an-hour as the weather warms up and the ninth inning adrenaline flows.

Even then, Chapman spent about a month on the disabled list in 2017 (shoulder) and 2018 (knee), and had to be demoted out of the closer’s role each year. It wouldn’t be the most surprisingly thing in the world if it were to happen again. Between Betances already being hurt and Britton and Chapman showing signs of decline, it sure seems like Ottavino is closer to save chances than it may appear given the other names in the bullpen.

If Ottavino leads the Yankees in saves — ahem, when he leads the Yankees in saves — my guess is he’ll do so with a low total like 18 saves. Ottavino has 18 saves, Chapman has 17 saves, Britton has 14 saves, something like that. It won’t be Ottavino with 42 saves and the runner-up with five saves or something like that. The Yankees have a historically great bullpen on paper. I’m still boldly predicting Ottavino will have to save the day in the ninth inning.

Romine will get an extension before Judge

Look, this probably won’t happen seeing how it wouldn’t qualify as a bold prediction if it were likely, but folks, get ready for Austin Romine to get a contract extension before other core players. Romine is due to become a free agent after the season and …

  • … the Yankees love him. Absolutely love him.
  • … Romine will be cheap, which presumably makes coming to terms easier.
  • … the free agent market is increasingly hostile toward players, hence all the recent extensions.

“I’d love to start, but I love being here. I like my job. I like this team. I’m looking forward to being on another winning team,” said Romine to Randy Miller recently. The American League catching picture stinks right now. Romine very well might get offers to start next winter, which is why I expect the Yanks to swoop in with an extension offer sooner rather than later. Two years and $5M seems reasonable.

As for Judge, he will earn $684,300 this year, his final season as a dirt cheap pre-arbitration player. The recent Alex Bregman extension (six years, $100M) and less recent Mike Trout extension (six years, $144.5M) indicate a Judge extension will fall in the six-year, $120M range. Bregman and Trout signed their deals at the same service time level as Judge, so that’s the ballpark number. He’s a $20M per year player on an extension.

During a radio interview earlier this week, Judge said “we haven’t spoken about that” when asked about a possible extension. He did kinda sorta indicate his agent may be talking to the Yankees though. Hal Steinbrenner more or less ducked a question about possible extensions in a radio interview the same day. Brendan Kuty has a transcript:

“I’ll leave that to (general manager Brian Cashman),” Steinbrenner said. “I’m not going to get into who we have talked to about the concept or who we do want to or don’t want to. But I will say it’s obvious we can’t do everybody at once. There are numerous situations we’re looking at when it comes to major league service time and the other part of the puzzle is, how conducive is the player to a concept like that. More to come. Stay tuned. We love all of our players. We love our young players. And we want them wearing pinstripes.”

This is my thinking: Judge already has lucrative endorsement deals with Pepsi and Adidas, among other #brands, and he’s a year away from a potential record arbitration payday. Kris Bryant ($10.85M), Francisco Lindor ($10.55M), and Mookie Betts ($10.5M) are the high-water marks for first year arbitration-eligible players. Repeating his 2018 season in 2019 (minus the wrist injury) would put Judge in position to crack $11M next year.

Because the endorsements give him some level of financial security, Judge is in good position to go year-to-year in arbitration to maximize his earning potential, or at least drive a real hard bargain in extension talks. He’s not stupid. He knows he’s the face of the franchise and one of the game’s biggest and most marketable stars. Passing on a nine-figure extension after only two full MLB seasons can’t be easy. Judge is one of the few players who could swing it.

The Yankees control Judge through 2022, so, while they surely want to lock him up at a below-market rate as soon as possible, there’s not much urgency. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Romine, on the other hand, can bolt after the season, and the generally weak catching situation around baseball means it’s possible another team will lure him away with a starting job. Time is of the essence with Romine. Free agency is months away, not years.

Furthermore, Romine is going to be cheap, and that makes coming to an agreement easier. The bigger the contract, the more complicated it gets. Martin Maldonado and James McCann both inked one-year deals worth $2.5M over the winter. Doubling that figures to catch Romine’s attention (and would double his career earnings) and could lead to a quick deal. It makes too much sense not to happen. Judge is playing the long game. Romine … is not.

1 year ago  ::  Mar 27, 2019 - 10:40AM #17320
Posts: 32,868

Newsday | Anthony Rieber: Some of the strongest spring training showings for the Yankeesbelonged to Greg Bird and Troy Tulowitzki, two guys that most of us, if asked in October, might not have even pegged as breaking camp with the team. Spring stats aren’t super predictive going forward, but both players are looking to hit the ground running come Opening Day and could be positive surprises. | Brandan KutyAaron Hicks has yet to return to baseball activities as the team gears up for Opening Day on Thursday. Hicks was penciled in to be the team’s starting center fielder before going down with a bad back, and doesn’t seem soon to return. Meanwhile, fellow injured outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is “doing some things” according to Aaron Boone. Make of that what you will.

FanGraphs | Craig Edwards: The conclusion of FanGraphs’ staggering Positional Power Rankings series finds the Yankees well clear of the rest of the sport in expected bullpen performance. The graph leading the story alone is enough to elicit a chuckle.

ESPN | Coley HarveyLuis Severino’s balky shoulder is probably the biggest concern headed into the season, as a rotation with him and James Paxton at the top is as good as any in baseball. Here, ESPN brings out an actual medical professional to discuss the young right-hander’s rotator cuff issue and what the future looks like.

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